New Connecticut Law Allows a Faster Divorce Process for Some Couples
Westport Divorce Lawyer
Out of all of the frustrations that come with divorce, the amount of time the process takes is among the most frustrating. While some couples have complex divorces involving business valuation, significant assets, or children and custody issues, many divorces are relatively simple. A new Connecticut law that went into effect October 1, 2015 recognizes that there should be an outlet to move “simple” divorces through the court docket more quickly. With a divorce usually taking at least three months, a shorter time frame is welcome news. Though the process may be speedier, it is not necessarily simpler; it is critical to consult with a knowledgeable divorce attorney before taking any action or signing any legal documents.
The New Connecticut Law: The Caveat
While the new “non-adversarial divorce law” proves to be beneficial for many divorcing couples, there are quite a few requirements the couple must meet in order to be eligible for a more expedited divorce process. If a couple meets the requirements, they may either:
- Obtain a divorce in under 35 days and may not even need to appear in court; or
- Agree on all terms relevant to the divorce and ask the court to waive the mandatory 90-day waiting period currently in place for marriage dissolution cases.
Both processes require that both parties meet the following criteria:
- The spouses must have been married for eight years or less;
- No children were born or adopted before/during the marriage;
- At least one of the spouses must presently be a Connecticut resident; and
- Has real property valued over a certain amount;
- Has a company-sponsored pension plan;
- Has a pending bankruptcy;
- Is applying for or receiving Medicaid;
- Has another dissolution of marriage action pending;
- Has a restraining or protective order against the other spouse; or
- Is pregnant.
Eligible couples are then put on the court docket after filing their initial documents, but may not need to appear in court depending on the circumstances surrounding the divorce. This helps preserve the time of the divorcing spouses in addition to opening up the court docket for more complicated divorce matters.
The Divorce Process: What Takes So Long?
The law, as it presently stands, requires a minimum of a 90-day waiting period between the time of filing for divorce and the issuance of the final divorce order, though many divorces can take significantly more time than that. Connecticut is a “no fault” divorce state, which means that either party can file for divorce even if there are no extenuating circumstances such, as substance abuse, adultery, sexual abuse, or desertion of the family. No-fault divorces will be granted in a court if 1) the marriage has broken down “irretrievably” or 2) the parties have lived apart for at least 18 months.
Regardless of whether there is a specific reason for the divorce, there are many things that can slow down the process. Child custody issues, for instance, may require the appointment and participation of a guardian ad litem, a third party who represents the interests of any marital children during the divorce process. This individual may conduct interviews with people involved in the child’s life and may be required to testify in court. The parties may also be asked questions under oath and may have to appear in court several times over the course of the divorce, even if no children are at issue. One party may need time to discover if there are any hidden assets that could potentially change the spousal maintenance or child support awards, or conduct other investigation into the other spouse’s finances. Any of these things can impact the length of time it takes to fully settle a divorce.
Reach Out to An Experienced Westport, Connecticut Family Law Attorney
By hiring an experienced Connecticut divorce attorney, you can rest assured that your divorce will be finalized as soon as possible and that your interests will be represented in court. Veteran legal professional Richard H. Raphael Attorney at Law has over 30 years of experience representing clients in simple and complex divorces, high asset divorces, child custody and support matters, alimony, and post-settlement modification agreements. Serving the greater Westport, Connecticut area, Mr. Raphael takes the time to ensure he understands his client’s desires and will work hard to achieve the most favorable outcome possible. Regardless of whether you are considering divorce, are in the process, or are seeking a post-settlement modification, contact Mr. Raphael to learn more about your legal rights during a divorce today.